Video: Dolan “somber” over Benedict XVI resignation

posted at 11:21 am on February 11, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

How did Cardinal Timothy Dolan first get word of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation announcement? In part, at least, from NBC’s Matt Lauer. Since more than a few commenters in the earlier thread thought that Cardinal Dolan would make a good candidate for Benedict XVI’s successor, his appearance this morning on Today is worth watching for both his reaction and the more detailed explanation of what follows.  Dolan, in his self-deprecatingly humorous manner, explains the challenge he faces as he attends his first conclave for the election of a new Pope, and the daunting responsibility of that task:

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Dolan explains what his colleagues in the College of Cardinals will want in the next Pope: strong theological grounding, leadership qualities, and humility.  Dolan praises the humility shown by Benedict XVI by choosing retirement so that the Catholic Church can move smoothly to his successor, which “makes me love the guy even more.”

That process will include the period called sede vacante, which means “empty chair,” a period without a Pope that allows the cardinals to meditate on the needs of the Church and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom in the election of a new pontiff.  Wikipedia has a good explanation of what this means administratively:

According to Universi Dominici Gregis, the government of the Holy Seesede vacante (and therefore of the Catholic Church) falls to the College of Cardinals, but in a very limited capacity. At the same time, all of the heads of the Roman Curia resign their offices. The exceptions are the Cardinal Camerlengo, who is charged with managing the property of the Holy See, and the Major Penitentiary, who continues to exercise his normal role. If either has to do something which normally requires the assent of the Pope, he has to submit it to the College of Cardinals. Papal legates continue to exercise their diplomatic roles overseas, and the Vicar General of Rome continues to exercise his pastoral role over the diocese of Rome during this period. The postal administration of the Vatican City State prepares and issues special postage stamps for use during this particular period, known as “sede vacante stamps”.

The coat of arms of the Holy See also changes during this period. Instead of the papal tiara over the keys, the tiara is replaced with the umbraculum or ombrellino in Italian. This symbolizes both the lack of a Pope and also the governance of the Camerlengo over the temporalities of the Holy See. As further indication, the Camerlengo ornaments his arms with this symbol during this period, which he subsequently removes once a pope is elected. The arms of the Camerlengo appear on commemorative euro coins minted during this period, which are legal tender in all Eurozone member states.

The interregnum is usually highlighted by the funeral Mass of the deceased pope, the general congregations of the college of cardinals for determining the particulars of the election, and finally culminated in the conclave to elect a successor. Once a new pope has been elected (and ordained bishop if necessary) the sedes is no longer vacant, so this period then officially ends. Afterward occurs the Papal Installation or Papal Coronation, depending on the form of inauguration and investiture a new pope chooses, and the formal possession of the cathedra of the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano.

If you’d like a look at the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano — the Basilica of St. John Lateran — here is a short slideshow of pictures I took of it while in Rome in April and May of 2011:

This is the actual seat for the Bishop of Rome, the office of the Pope.

Update: The Anchoress has a long post with her thoughts on the announcement.  Be sure to read it all — she’s providing a lot of updates, too, with other reactions — but this was especially thoughtful:

Listening to some of the inanities coming out of the mouths of cable news anchors, and noting the way they are quickly, predictably, focusing on the “negative narratives” — one voice on cable anchor is making it sound like the church has just endured 32 years of misery and she imagines “great joy” among “progressive” Catholics and “confusion” among “conservative” ones — how grateful I am that, thanks to Benedict’s awareness, there is a hardy and energetic internet presence, well-established and looked upon with encouragement by Rome (and increasingly entered into and brilliantly utilized by smart bishopspriestsreligious and layfolk). Thanks to that, we’ll explore this very new ground, together, with our diverse points of view laid out and hashed out, all while trusting that the Holy Spirit is guiding what that occurs, as has been true since Pentecost. Benedict has done a great deal to help unite Christians, even while his own church has been roiled; and he has throughout much of his pontificate been an obedient Peter, led where he would perhaps rather not go. …

Perhaps Benedict’s retirement is meant to remind this exceedingly busy world — the non-stop, twenty-four-hour-live and very self-important world — that we are none of us indispensable; that there comes a time to step back, throw oneself into the arms of the Lord and trust that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Yes, I am sad. I have loved Benedict XVI; he has been my favorite pope — I loved John Paul, of course, but as I have said before, he was a grand, dramatic pipe organ of a man; he belonged to the whole world and his writings are often so dense I cannot plumb them. Benedict has always been the more accessible tinkling piano, simply inviting one to come closer. His copious writings have been almost avuncular in their gently-voiced but brilliant instruction, and somehow it always felt like he belonged “to me”. I will miss him terribly.

I expect that Benedict XVI’s retirement/resignation may drive some to reread his work (or read it for the first time), and that his public and historical stature will increase as a result.


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…but was he sober?

KOOLAID2 on February 11, 2013 at 11:29 AM

…wouldn’t it be something…if he was nominated!

KOOLAID2 on February 11, 2013 at 11:31 AM

If you want a pope more adherent and farther from the progs, then hope they pick someone from Africa or Asia.

I would say Latin America, but that’s become a dicier propositon.

A pope from the would really upend Barry.

A pope from the Philippines or West Africa would shake Europe and China.

No more Euros. No Americans.

budfox on February 11, 2013 at 11:33 AM

Wasn’t Benedict mainly a placeholder anyway? He wasn’t expected to live in office as long as he has.

My money is on an Italian for the next pontiff.

mythicknight on February 11, 2013 at 11:33 AM

That should say a

“a pope from the mid-east would really upend Barry”

budfox on February 11, 2013 at 11:34 AM

Fortunately or unfortunately I don’t think an American will ever be selected as Pope. Interesting to see the MSM trot out all the garbage without mentioning anything good the church does. Typically balanced approach that.

Rufus on February 11, 2013 at 11:34 AM

…but was he sober?

KOOLAID2 on February 11, 2013 at 11:29 AM

Your name appears well suited!

Dolan might have better responded with the Joy that the Holy Spirit is a work now in this, and in the words of JPII, said, “be not afraid.”

Don L on February 11, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Listening to some of the inanities coming out of the mouths of cable news anchors, and noting the way they are quickly, predictably, focusing on the “negative narratives” —

…that seems to be a journalists job the last decade or two!

KOOLAID2 on February 11, 2013 at 11:36 AM

An African pontiff is the ticket. They are orthodox and have no time for the nihilism promoted by Western Leftist elites.

vilebody on February 11, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Don L on February 11, 2013 at 11:35 AM

…Cardinal Dolan…has a better sense of humour… than most!

KOOLAID2 on February 11, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Pope John Paul II showed the power a Pope could exercise, and how to exercise it in a modern world. Pope Benedict was not that kind of a Pope. He was deep theologian and made his mark by adding ways to bring the mass closer to the faithful.

He was, in his own way, a worthy successor to John Paul II. His leaving like this seals his legacy. God be with him.

itsspideyman on February 11, 2013 at 12:03 PM

An African pontiff is the ticket. They are orthodox and have no time for the nihilism promoted by Western Leftist elites.

vilebody on February 11, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Very true. American journalists will be in a twist trying to figure him out.

itsspideyman on February 11, 2013 at 12:04 PM

This Pope has been a remarkable Pope.

I am saddened by this news…but praying for his health…and for the upcoming conclave.

It seems Pope Benedict XVI made his decision and delivered his announcement with serenity.

Truly remarkable.

workingclass artist on February 11, 2013 at 12:09 PM

That process will include the period called sede vacante, which means “empty chair,” a period without a Pope that allows the cardinals to meditate on the needs of the Church and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom in the election of a new pontiff.

Those kinds of empty chairs are good. Why do we have to live with one that has a defective “empty”.

Dusty on February 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM

An African pontiff is the ticket. They are orthodox and have no time for the nihilism promoted by Western Leftist elites.

vilebody on February 11, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Very true. American journalists will be in a twist trying to figure him out.

itsspideyman on February 11, 2013 at 12:04 PM

As I posted on the other thread, I’m hoping for a non-European to get the job. That is an unorthodoxy in and of itself which I think would do much to strengthen the RCC and affirm the fact that it is universal. Hard to do when you keep elevating Europeans, mostly from within what is now Italy.

And yes, it would be enjoyable indeed to have idiots like Matt Lauer or Soledad O’Brien having to scramble to find out where on the map the next Pope is from and what exactly it means for the RCC.

Happy Nomad on February 11, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Saint Malachy prophecy says the next Pope (Petrus Romanus) will be the last before the End;

In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit [i.e., as bishop]. Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations: and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the terrible judge will judge his people.
The End.”

Tough times ahead.

Terp Mole on February 11, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Who gives a damn. Catholic church has sided with the Devil for as long as live in the USA. The mere fact that Nancy Pelosi and her insane ilk have not been excommunicated at least a decade ago speaks volumes of the corruption of church hierarchs today. A religion led by such a corrupt, self serving bunch is not a religion I care to respect.

Archivarix on February 11, 2013 at 12:25 PM

…but was he sober?

KOOLAID2 on February 11, 2013 at 11:29 AM

I didn’t know that was a requirement to be Catholic; had I known it, I might not have Converted.

JFKY on February 11, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Who gives a damn. Catholic church has sided with the Devil for as long as live in the USA. The mere fact that Nancy Pelosi and her insane ilk have not been excommunicated at least a decade ago speaks volumes of the corruption of church hierarchs today. A religion led by such a corrupt, self serving bunch is not a religion I care to respect.

Archivarix on February 11, 2013 at 12:25 PM

You confuse the Rolls Royce with a few drunk drivers. Perhaps, if you bothered to seek the truth, you’d recognize that Christ hand-picked Judas. The Church, it’s sacraments, its sacred tradition, it dogma, are holy, many within may well be sinners—which is why Christ came down here in the first place. In the end Christ’s Holy Church will prevail, though many of its detractors may not fare so well.

Don L on February 11, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Maybe the next pope will be a woman. Perhaps a wise Latina.

hatecraft on February 11, 2013 at 12:51 PM

hatecraft on February 11, 2013 at 12:51 PM

You forgot your sarc tag.

PatriotGal2257 on February 11, 2013 at 2:32 PM

Dolan doesn’t have a chance in becoming Pope. Anyone want to place a wager on that one. Too bad that there are only a handfull of Arab priests. My guess is that next priest will be Italian.

SC.Charlie on February 11, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Saint Malachy prophecy says the next Pope (Petrus Romanus) will be the last before the End;

“In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit [i.e., as bishop]. Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations: and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the terrible judge will judge his people.
The End.”

Tough times ahead.

Terp Mole on February 11, 2013 at 12:23 PM

This particular prophecy has placed the College of Cardinals in something of a dilemma. A large number are adamant that the next Pope not be named Peter in order to avoid the implications of fulfilling Mallachy’s prophecy. As one can see the implications are dire indeed, for the Church and for the World. It’s hard to interpret “tribulations” and “destroyed” in a positive light.

Unfortunately for the College, one of their leading candidates for Pope would have been Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. Would have been, were his name not PETER, the very name certain to send nervous chills down the spines of many in the Papal Conclave. Still there is a strong push to make Cardinal Turkson the first Black Pope, the very election of whom would signal to the world the inclusiveness of the Catholic Church.

So do they ignore the ancient prophecies, throw caution to the wind and elect Cardinal Peter Turkson in a bid to reach out to the world?, or do they attempt to fully abrogate the prophecy by electing someone with no connection whatsoever with either Peter or Rome, thereby forestalling the fulfillment of Malachy’s prophecies.

Tough times ahead, indeed!

ariel on February 11, 2013 at 4:32 PM

This particular prophecy has placed the College of Cardinals in something of a dilemma. A large number are adamant that the next Pope not be named Peter in order to avoid the implications of fulfilling Mallachy’s prophecy. As one can see the implications are dire indeed, for the Church and for the World. It’s hard to interpret “tribulations” and “destroyed” in a positive light.

The College of Cardinals is unlikely to take Saint Malachi’s prophecies seriously, and will likely attempt to elect a Pope who can best unify the Church under the conditions it faces today. The fact that a Cardinal has the first name Peter will probably not influence their decision, since most elected Popes use a different name for their Papacy, usually in honor of a saint or previous Pope whose legacy they admire and want to imitate.

For example, Benedict XVI’s real name was Joseph (Ratzinger), but there has never been a Pope Joseph, as most Popes have too much humility to take the name of the Virgin Mary’s husband. He took the name Benedict out of admiration for Saint Benedict, the Benedictine theology, and the previous Pope Benedict whose Papacy was during World War I.

Steve Z on February 12, 2013 at 9:39 AM